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LetShannonDunk; the movement


Posted Dec 3 2009 5:00PM

For every NBA superstar that can't decide if he really wants to participate in the dunk contest during All-Star Weekend, there's a Shannon Brown willing to walk on hot coals to take your place.

So why wait and ride with the big dogs when you can get a first class ticket with what's hot in these streets?

That's right; Hang Time is beating everyone else to the punch and endorsing a candidate that isn't even on the 2010 dunk contest ballot (yet).

This is the ground floorof the movement, check it out.

And anyone that can inspire a grassroots campaign like Brown has must be worth supporting. It's viral already. It's all over twitter and facebook. You better get on board before the bandwagon fills up.

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You've seen his work in games. The Lakers guard is easily one of the best finishers in the league right now, when it comes to making plays above the rim.

He's a weight class or two above defending champ Nate Robinson, so he won't garner any of the little man love that Krypto-Nate has used to fuel his re-election campaign.

Yet Brown lacks the global cachet of the-dunker-who-shall-not-be-named (until he either agrees to dive in or dip out once and for all). But so does everyone else that could potentially make the field for Dallas in a couple of months.

The glaring difference: not everyone else is grinding to make it the way Brown's street and cyber teams are grinding on behalf of their guy. In addition to the proliteriat, all of Brown's Lakers teammates want to see him in the contest, Feb. 13 at American Airlines Center.

I plan on being in the arena that night to see the contest with my own eyes. I want to see the best of the best on the floor that night.

Shannon Brown needs to be there!

-- Posted Dec. 3, 2009, 5:00 p.m. Question or comment? E-mail Sekou

Mood music

We're still a couple hours away from the live event.

But it's never too soon to set the mood.

This afternoon we're going to see and hear Allen Iverson speak publicly for the first since he return to Philly became official.

Before we do that, can we reminisce? Can we take a moment and appreciate what we had?

We should steal this time to remember young AI, the cat who made us all smile with his fearless, individualism on and off the court.

The young baller that refused to allow anything or anyone stand between his body and the basket and his goals, regardless of how big the stage.

The little man with the nasty crossover that snatched his respect from his elders by going straight at them from the moment he set foot in the league.

You've got unti 5 p.m. to enjoy this and then ... it's a new deal, AI and Philly II, the remix.

-- Posted Dec. 3, 2009, 2:20 p.m. Question or comment? E-mail Sekou

When Kaman talks do you listen?

"I am not against it. I am not pushing for it. If it happens, it happens. I would not be upset. I like to win."

If these same words were uttered by the likes of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, the NBA would have a Code Red-level media relations disaster on its hands only Tiger Woods could appreciate.

But when the person speaking is Clippers center Chris Kaman (he spoke with my man Terry Foster of Detroit News), it doesnt even register as a blip on the radar of most NBA observers.

I'm outraged, of course.

I'm fuming because Kaman grew up on the same rough streets of Grand Rapids, Mich., that I did. And when a man from the "Furniture City" speaks, someone needs to listen (if you don't believe either of us, just ask another member of the crew, boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr.).

Seriously, with all the faux outrage that a simple comment from Allen Iverson or Rasheed Wallace generates, is there no one out there up in arms about Kaman admitting publicly that he wouldn't mind heading home to play for the Pistons?

Granted, Kaman won't be a free agent until 2013. And he was responding to a question (posed in a hypothetical trade scenario that would send Tayshaun Prince back to his hometown of Los Angeles) as opposed to staging a one-man uprising to escape Clipperland.

I just can't help but wonder what kind of reaction Wade would get if he said the same things Kaman did about his hometown Bulls ... (hmmm, pandemonium).

-- Posted Dec. 3, 2009, 12:35 p.m. Question or comment? E-mail Sekou

A little pick me up

I need a pick me up right now, something to get my juices flowing and to get me focused back on the beauty that defines this game.

Sometimes it's a great dunk. Other times it might be a jaw-dropping block or a no-look pass that gets me out of my seat. You know it when you see it.

And with all the off-court drama of the past few days, I haven't been nearly as focused as usual on the beauty of the game.

There's been too much negativity around here lately, due mostly to your host's cynical side winning the personality control battle.

So I feel it's my duty to change the mood here at Hang Time. And I'm doing it right now with this dazzling Top 10 video from our friends at NBA TV.

Enjoy!

-- Posted Dec. 3, 2009, 11:35 a.m. Question or comment? E-mail Sekou

Help me find the words

Someone asked me to explain what I'd just seen moments after the Hawks' 146-115 destruction of the Raptors Wednesday night at Philips Arena and couldn't come up with anything that made sense.

Raptors point guard Jarrett Jack had no such problem.

I asked him how he and his teammates could walk out of the building without knocking a hole in a wall after giving up the second highest point total in franchise history?

And he took over from there.

"I'm trying to keep my composure, to be honest," he said as the beads of sweat built up on his bald head. "I'm trying to do it during the game. The thing of it is defense. You can't give up 75 points in a half and expect to be successful in this league. You can't come in with the mindset that you're just going to outscore everybody. It's not possible."

Not for the Raptors, losers of five straight games and one of several teams as low to the earth this morning as our friends in New Jersey, who set a new mark for futility with their 18th straight loss on the same night (more on that history-making feat in a minute).

"I don't know what we've got to do, if we have to make some lineup changes, sit people down earlier," Jack said, his voice loud enough for everyone in the locker room and training room in the back to hear him. "We're not playing [defense] and we're not rebounding. We're shooting ourselves in the foot twice. I'm not putting any of this on one person, it's a collective effort. Defense is not going to be solved by one person being inserted into the lineup. It's about five guys on a string rotating and helping each other, talking and reacting to certain situations."

There were no such rotations, reactions or anything else against the Hawks, who didn't play their starters in the fourth quarter and still ran away with the game.

"They were non-existent," Jack said, still seething, "our whole defensive strategy, scheme, rotation and everything was non-existent. Any time a team scores 140, 150 points, you can't say we did anything right on defense. And we should be embarrassed. Everybody should be embarrassed. Us [the players], coaches, everybody that was involved in this game."

Jack exploded in a fourth-quarter huddle, furious that no one else seemed as perturbed as he was about being toyed with and discarded by a Hawks team he admitted was good but not "140 points" good.

"I was upset that we don't buy in on the defensive end of the floor," he said. "And every time something happens, 'its okay and it's alright.' It's not alright. We just let problems go by without attacking them, or challenging them or getting them solved. We just can't keep pushing them to the back of the bus and just say that's okay. It's not alright. Everybody can't walk on egg shells around here and just act like we're playing good basketball when we're not. We're playing terrible. And that's just the bottom line."

By then, Antoine Wright, who was packing up his stuff in the locker stall behind Jack at the time, blurted out a "well, well," a phrase you might hear at a church during the fire and brimstone portion of a preacher's sermon.

"Anybody who thinks otherwise," a still steaming Jack continued, "they can come talk to me and try to convince me of anything else. But we're playing bad basketball. And we're a better basketball team than that."

Jack wasn't the only man in the Raptors' locker room questioning the motivations of his team, as Toronto Star columnist (apparently Cousin Doug knew what was coming and decided to postpone our family reunion until All-Star Weekend) Dave Feschuk made clear:

"After an unconscionable defensive effort that saw the Raptors surrender the second-most points in franchise history, more than one player openly criticized the coach's schemes in the game's solemn wake. And more than one veteran voice said Triano is failing to call out the players who are making the most egregious defensive mistakes.

"The defensive effort hasn't been there for a while. We didn't magically appear last on the charts defensively," said all-star forward Chris Bosh, who, after scoring two points on two field-goal attempts, didn't seem thrilled with the offence, either. "I mean, tonight was just a total embarrassment. We couldn't stop anybody. We haven't stopped anybody all year."

***

Tougher times in Jersey

As bad as things were for the Raptors, they were even worse for the Nets. Per Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger. Not only did they snag the record, they did it without so much as a drop of sympathy from one of the greatest players in franchise history.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, however, sees brighter days on the horizon. He knows from experience that the Nets can only go one way from their current perch at ground zero, as my man Dave D'Alessandro chronicled beautifully here for the Star-Ledger: "He was a season-ticket holder in those days in Dallas, a young master of the universe who was still six years away from being an owner, and he had to watch a Mavs team win 13 games one year and 11 the next.

You read that right: He rooted for a team that went 24-140 over a two-year span, so the guy knows suffering.

Then he purchased the team -- that would be 10 years ago next month  and he became an even greater expert in the art of suffering. And that was with Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley already on Don Nelson's team.

"They were saying, 'Fire Nellie,' they were saying we (stink), and 'We're tired of drafting big white Europeans,' " Cuban recalled. " 'This Dirk thing, we don't know if it's gonna work out, Nash is hurt, we stink, we haven't won anything in 10 years.' . . .People are writing, 'Cuban thinks he's making the playoffs, he's smoking dope.'

"So it wasn't obvious we had a nice young core. Because you can say the same thing now, looking at the Nets: Devin Harris, Robin Lopez, Yi. . . .you've got a lot of guys that have a really good future ahead of them."

***

Happier Days in Cleveland?

Unlike their counterparts in Canada and New Jersey, most folks in Northeast Ohio are smiling this morning. The Cavs won, wore fly throwbacks doing it and Big Z finally bagged the team record games played (724 and counting). The world has to be a better place.

But the record came a day late and was a dollar short for some, as Jodie Valade of the Plain Dealer detailed: "The franchise record for game's played came one contest later than expected, when Ilgauskas recorded the first "Did Not Play -- Coach's Decision" of his career Saturday against Dallas.

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown went with a smaller lineup to match the Mavericks. Ilgauskas' anger at the situation was apparent; he refused media interview requests for two days, and James spoke out in support of his 7-3 center Monday and said Brown was wrong to not play Ilgauskas.

After Wednesday's game, when Ilgauskas finally broke the longevity record he has said he would value most among other Cavaliers records he holds (rebounds and blocks), he did not take reporter's questions and spoke only briefly to address the situation that has shadowed the team this week.

"Obviously I was very disappointed that I didn't play in the last game," he said. "I know I'm a good player. I think by me playing in that game, I would not have affected the outcome of the game. What made me more disappointed and upset were the acts that followed. This whole mess that has been created. I'm not going to go into any details.

"Once again, I'm going to be a bigger man and walk away from this. I know when I go to bed at night, my conscience is clear. What I'm going to do is continue to do my job. I love this team, I love my teammates; they're like a family to me. I'm going to come every day to work and try my hardest, win some games and hope to bring a championship to this city because they deserve it."

***

Collison smiling, Thunder rolling

Kevin Durant went crazy from beyond the 3-point line and the Thunder continued their domination of Eastern Conference foes (they are 6-1 with the lone loss coming to the Magic).

But what's most important is that Nick Collison is happy again, as media mogul Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman explains: "A year ago, the veteran power forward had declared by mid-December that the Thunder's inaugural season, because of its near historically bad start, was the most miserable year he'd ever experienced.

On Wednesday, he confessed that this season hasn't been much better  this time because of his personal performance.

So you can imagine how comforted Collison was following the Thunder's 117-106 victory over Philadelphia, a game in which he returned from a four-game absence and sparked the Thunder with a season-high 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

"Our team's done well, and it's been fun to be a part of that, but personally, I haven't been able to play as well as I've wanted to," Collison said. "I'll take winning over anything. But when you feel like you're capable of doing more, it's always a little frustrating when you can't."

***

Youth movement in Sacramento working

With their veterans like Kevin Martin and Francisco Garcia out with injuriesthe Kings have shifted their youth movement into high gear. And it's working for them. They've won four straight and six of their last 10 games.

They're being led by Rookie of the Month Tyreke Evans, who got loose for 26 points, six assists and five rebounds in a win over the Pacers. But he has plenty of help, as my man Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee makes clear: "In the latest win, they did it with a balance and chemistry that all involved are confident they can retain for the long haul. [Spencer] Hawes, Tyreke Evans and Jason Thompson combined for 69 points, each taking over during different stretches with timely production.

And while the Kings' schedule surely will be tougher in the weeks to come, reserve point guard Sergio Rodríguez said the lessons learned on a night like this are not easily forgotten. "There's a lot of talent on this team, and everybody can make plays and make things happen," Rodríguez said. "When everybody has their night, it's easy to win games. "The chemistry is amazing. ... Everybody is together. We help each other every game. We've got confidence. We won three in a row before this game. And we know that if we keep working, good things will come."

***

A good look for the Magic, too

The Cavs aren't the only team rocking throwbacks these days. Seven teams are celebrating their histories as part of the league's Hardwood Classics Nights program, including the Magic.

The new (old) look got a thumbs up in Orlando, according to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "Was that Terry Catledge, Reggie Theus and Nick Anderson out on the Amway Arena parquet on Wednesday night? No, but the Magic sure looked like them.

The team wore replicas of their road jerseys from their inaugural season in 1989-90. Power forward Ryan Anderson, who was just 18 months old when the Magic played their first game, enjoyed the black jerseys with white pinstripes. "I love them," Anderson said about an hour before the game. "I'd like to take it home, but I don't know if I can."

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